First: We have a theme of writing posts going this week. I promise the book reviews will resume shortly.
Second: Contest ALERT! Writerly friends, the fabulous Guide to Literary Agents blog is hosting a contest, so hasten over there if you have a completed MG or YA novel you would like to submit. Prizes: critiques by agent Jennifer Laughran with the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Now, on to today’s blog topic: Themes
What do Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Artemis Fowl have in common? They are obviously all young male protagonists of wildly popular books/movies/cults/pop culture.
Beyond the obvious, they are all middle grade (initially) boys on epic adventures, battling dark forces and forging friendships and piecing together their place in the universe. They each have layered, compelling themes that make Harry much more than a boy who turns out to be a wizard, and Artemis more than just a very smart, rich kid. Percy was convinced he was a drop-out in life, until he realized he was actually half god (hey, that would kind of make my day, too). The themes range from obvious (Harry is the “chosen one”) to the subtle (Artemis is searching for his mother’s lost mind, as much as fairy gold) to the brilliant (dyslexia as a sign of a higher destiny as a half blood).
A powerful theme will draw us in, even when we don’t know what it is. Sneaky that way, themes are. They speak to powerful, almost subconscious, yearnings for understanding – about ourselves, about the world, about each other.
Weaving themes into your story is no small trick. I love the way blogger friend Rebecca describes the levels of writing as expression through music: technical accuracy, interpretation, expression, and power. In order to capture a theme effectively, I think writers need to at least reach the level of expression in their writing. The ones that can do it with power, hit it out of the park.
I need to go meditate in the Jedi Council chambers now. To better cleanse my mind and prepare to reach the next level . . .
What are you doing lately to improve your craft?